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CSotD: Sea the Way comics looked in 1958

As you’re reading the blog this morning, I’m somewhere in the Western Adirondacks, so, when I was deciding on a vacation post, I looked at this day in history and found that this was the date in 1958 that they began letting the water into the St. Lawrence Seaway, which was a big deal then and is still a good place to go watch ships go through the locks.

And after you watch a few ships — assuming the Canadians ever let us in again — you can cross over to Upper Canada Village, an outstanding living history place made from historic buildings rescued from the land flooded by the Seaway Project.

So here’s a collection of strips from July 1, 1958, which is about all I’m going to have to say. I’m off duty, just swatting mosquitos in my old stomping grounds.

Go put on another pot of coffee. We’ve got a lot of comics to wade through — 1958 was a pretty good year, with a lot of classics hanging on and a good number of relatively new titles.

 

(That familiar looking family is signed by Whitney Darrow, Jr., who by 1958 was pretty well established at the New Yorker. And if you’re drooling over the prices, bear in mind that the minimum wage was a buck an hour.)

(Hi and Lois was closing in on four years old, a spinoff of Beetle Bailey.)

(There were a lot of “They’ll Do It Every Time” imitators. “There Ought to be a Law” launched in 1944 and was one of the more credible imitators. Hatlo’s strip began in 1929.)

(As an eight-year-old, Miss Peach was one of my favorites. Mel Lazarus had a unique talent for real-life little kids we could relate to, and jokes that appealed to our parents. By contrast, I felt I ought to like Peanuts because of the easy style and the little kids featured there, so I read it faithfully, but, to be honest, most of the time I had no idea WTF they were talking about.)

 

(I remember when two or three guys would come out and fill your tank, wipe your windows and check your oil and your tire pressure, though more often it was one guy. But as late as 1970, I had a roommate who paid for rent, groceries and junior college by pumping gas and working as a mechanic. Those days are sure gone.)

 

(Had to search a little for a horizontal layout. Several papers were running Peanuts as a vertical, one-panel per layer. Schulz anticipated shrunken strips and pragmatic layouts.)

(I used to see Penny in a magazine my sister subscribed to, maybe “Calling All Girls.” She was pretty and, while a mischievous teenager, she was treated as a bright, interesting young woman. I see that Don Markstein is ahead of me in pointing out the Katharine Hepburn influence.)

(Note that Snuffy Smith was still known at Barney Google, at least at several papers. I don’t think all.)

(When my father wasn’t torturing my mother by pretending to like the Andrew Sisters — she was way more hip than that — he tortured us all by adding “Old Jungle Saying” to his comments. But, yeah, I read the Phantom.)

 

Now go have yourself a good breakfast, bearing in mind, perhaps, that one of the financial blows to newspapers came when national products switched the bulk of their advertising to TV.

Alpha-Bits were hawked on TV by Loveable Truly as part of the Linus The Lion-Hearted TV show, which was basically a 30 minute commercial for Post cereals. Kellogg’s countered with Kellogg’s OKs, first with Big Otis, a lumberjack, and, when that failed, with Yogi Bear, who told us

Student! Be prudent!
Take a little time for breakfast!
You’ve gotta have gas to make the class.
Eat breakfast! I thank you!

And I thank you, too. I’ll be back tomorrow.

 

Probably.

Community Comments

#1 David Spitko
July/1/2021
@ 7:58 am

I was struck by Dr. Rex Morgan. “Yeah – Mom was away at a ‘state institution’ and her reappearing will require an ‘explanation.'”

That is what I grew up with. My mother was in an out of “mental institutions” (as they were known back then) most of my childhood with schizophrenia – for which of course they now have real medicine. Me and my brothers were forbidden upon pain of being whipped to tell anyone where my mother was. As much as mental illness is still a stigma, it is nothing like it was 60 years ago.

Have a good vacation Mike. You deserve it.

#2 Nelson Dewey
July/1/2021
@ 9:18 am

1958. I was young and impressionable then, and obviously developed my preference for comic art that was interesting to look at. No copy & paste. No talking heads.
The good ol’ days.

You kids get off my lawn!

#3 Brad Walker
July/1/2021
@ 9:51 am

I make it 39 continuity strips out of 58. Jack Anderson used to call them Storyline Strips.

#4 Kip Williams
July/1/2021
@ 10:04 am

Wow! Those faces in the Brenda Starr strip are real attention grabbers.

I’ve been reading Nancy reprints in GoComics for a while, and Bushmiller uses stats almost methodically, and for all I know, across strips.

#5 Louis Wysocki
July/1/2021
@ 2:39 pm

Thank you for running these–1958 was the year I was born!

I lived in Bridgeport CT until I was 7, around the corner from my grandparents’ apartment. Every day I would go over there, and in the morning my grandmother would give me money to buy the New York Daily News in the morning at the cigar store next to their building, and in the afternoon, the Bridgeport Post when it hit the stands, and bring it back to them. My grandfather was retired at the time, and would spend all day in his chair in the living room, smoking like a chimney and drinking whisky in the afternoon. The rule was that I could look at the funnies only after he had read the papers–he didn’t want me to mess up the pages on him. I remember many (but not all) the strips you displayed, as there was little crossover between the two papers at the time. I learned to read early, thanks to TV commercials and the comics, and loved strips such as Lil Abner, Dondi, Brenda Starr and Lolly (for examples), even if I didn’t always understand what was going on.

Surprised that you didn’t have Winnie Winkle or On Stage in the mix above; guess your papers didn’t run them?

#6 Becky
July/1/2021
@ 3:34 pm

Oh, the memories! In 1958 I was in the 8th grade, and read the comics every day. I never read the story comics (I had enough drama in real life), but I did read all the funny ones. “Grandma” was one I had totally forgotten, but was fascinated with back then, not so much for the dialogue, but for the artwork. I studied the way Kuhn drew his characters. Grandma with her funny hat and prominent chin never stood up straight. The postman wore a uniform, carried a smallish satchel, and had a bushy mustache and that lock of hair sticking out below the back of his cap. It was a great time for the comics pages!

#7 Paul Berge
July/2/2021
@ 6:57 am

Like Sparky Schultz, Chet Gould also anticipated the shrinking real estate for comic strips. If you notice how high in the second panel of Dick Tracy he placed the copyright boilerplate, that’s where the bottom of the strip was in some papers.

Looks like Smilin’ Jack had the same option.

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